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Ineligible 17-year-old voted eight times for Modi

NEW DELHI (AFP) – Indian police yesterday detained an ineligible 17-year-old for voting eight times for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, as rivals screamed voter fraud in the ongoing national polls.

The Election Commission of India suspended poll officials and ordered a fresh vote at the polling station after the excited minor’s video of himself voting for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), went viral.

“This is the second vote,” the boy said, smiling into his phone’s camera after pressing the electronic voting machine button for a BJP candidate in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state and a political bellwether.

“Now look! This is my third vote, I have now voted five times already, now going for the sixth time,” he added with a finger-count gesture after every press, before finally stopping after the eighth time.

The minimum voting age in India is 18 years.

Voters queue up to cast their ballots at a polling station in Mumbai, India. PHOTO: AFP

“We have detained the juvenile and prima facie he has verified what was visible to all in the viral video,” Deputy Police Superintendent Dhananjay Singh Kushwaha told AFP.

“He told us that he voted eight times and made the video,” the officer added, refusing to comment further.

The chief electoral office in Uttar Pradesh said on X that all polling officials at the polling station had been suspended and would be disciplined.

The incident occured in Farrukhabad, about 190 kilometres west of the state capital Lucknow.

Uttar Pradesh, in the north of the country, has more than 250 million people – a larger population than Brazil – and its 80 MPs are key to anyone seeking national power in India.

Modi is widely expected to win the poll but his political rivals flagged the incident as an example of their allegations that Indian election authorities favour the ruling party and do not enforce rules properly.

The Indian premier, who remains widely popular and is seeking his third consecutive term, has been accused of weakening key democratic institutions including the free press, and targeting his political rivals.

“Fearing its imminent loss, the BJP is trying to rob democracy by pressuring the system,” Rahul Gandhi, the main leader of the opposition Congress party said on X.

The Congress party “expects all officials deployed on poll duty to resist government’s pressure and not to forget their constitutional duty”, he added.